Archives for category: Underway

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Fred Gray IV

USS JOHN C STENNIS, At Sea – Trash is compiled from all spaces throughout the ship, and it stacks up rapidly; but there are certain Sailors responsible for processing it.

Waste management is part of the auxiliaries division of the Engineering Department responsible for processing and properly disposing of the waste aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

With the magnitude of trash compiled on a daily basis, it is crucial that Sailors in waste management properly dispose of it in a quick and timely manner.

According to the ship’s waste management logs, 87,480 pounds of waste was processed in November. With a crew of 23 temporarily assigned duty (TAD) personnel and five Sailors from Engineering Department covering both day and night shifts, it may often appear overwhelming to keep the trash under control.

“Sometimes it feels like the ship against us,” said Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Brinton Holland, the waste room supervisor. “We process thousands of bags a day.”

The ship has 12 waste-processing machines dispersed throughout the ship, and if one becomes inoperable it becomes a problem for everyone wanting to dispose of trash.

When inoperable equipment causes trash to pile up, news of it travels quickly up the chain of command and the problem becomes a top priority for senior leadership, said Holland.

All hands are responsible for sorting trash to ensure the equipment operates at maximum efficiency and doesn’t become damaged or cause harm to personnel.

“Nobody wants to dig through other peoples’ garbage, but if they separate it into plastics, burnables, pulpables and metals, and do the pre-staging, it’s really easy to take the trash to one of the waste rooms and in five seconds be on your way,” said Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Michael Graybill, waste management’s leading petty officer.

Sailors working within waste management have to follow the instructions and guidelines put in place by both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the equipment technical manuals because one EPA violation for dumping plastic in the ocean can result in $186,000 fine.

“A lot of people get upset that we scrutinize so much about one piece of plastic in a bag that’s to be tossed overboard, but what they don’t see is by preventing that one piece; we are preventing thousands,” said Holland.

And these guidelines are put in place for a good reason.

“With about 81,000 pounds of trash, the TAD personnel don’t have time sort through every bag,” said Graybill. “If the ship does their part processing waste, things become much easier.”

It is a big responsibility for a small group of Sailors to bear alone, but with an all-hands effort, Sailors can assist in waste management and help solidify Stennis’ place among the “green fleet.”

For more information about the EPA guidelines refer to NAVSEA S9593-DD-GYD-010 or contact the waste management office.

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, consisting of Stennis, Carrier Air Wing 9, Destroyer Squadron 21, and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) are forward deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to strengthen regional partnerships, sustain maritime security, and support combatant commander requirements for assets in the area.

Aviation Machinist’s Mate Airman Jordan Jones, of Greensboro, N.C., and Aviation Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Ryan Thomason, of Denver, prepare a bag of shredded plastics to be processed in one of the compressed melting units in waste room four aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. -Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Fred M. Gray IV.

Aviation Machinist’s Mate Airman Jordan Jones, of Greensboro, N.C., explains to Aviation Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Ryan Thomason, of Denver, how to use one of the compressed melting units in waste room four aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. -Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Fred M. Gray IV/Released)


Story by MC3 Grant Wamack
Photo by MC3 Benjamin Crossley

Last March, 315 Sailors made rank aboard Stennis. This advancement cycle more than 1,400 candidates hope to do the same.

Though E-4, E-5 and E-6 examinations are weeks away there is still time for Sailors to hit the books to be prepared for their first chance at advancement in 2012.

Exams are re-written each cycle, but generally consist of a mixture of questions related to a Sailor’s particular rating as well as questions on basic military regulations. There are many resources available to study from, many of which can be found on the Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS) website,

On BUPERS Sailors can navigate bibliographies for their rating, which reference all the documents used to write the exam. It denotes the exact chapters in a reference that Sailors will see on the test. Sailors can also find what sections to study in their basic military requirements book.

“I’ve always found everything I needed to study on BUPERS,” said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Jessica Hensel. “It tells you exactly what to study.”

Though knowing what to study is important, finding the motivation to study is equally important for doing well on the test, said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Juan Castilloadame, who advanced last cycle.

“You can’t just let books sit in your locker for months on end,” said Castilloadame. “You have got to motivate yourself to find the time and really make an honest effort to learn the material. Studying once and forgetting about it won’t help; you have to make a commitment to studying.”

Sailors discouraged by a personnel evaluation that they think will hinder their chance at advancing can boost their final multiple by doing well on the exam, but it begins with studying.

“If you are not happy with your evaluation then doing well on the test is even more important,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Justin McQuillin, who works in the education services office and routinely handles paperwork on advancement. “It can give you the extra points that could be the difference between advancing and staying right where you are. You should try and make a difference in the areas that you can control.”

Aside from studying, Sailors can also ensure all the information in their service record is up to date and accurate, which can have a significant impact on advancement.. Things like an undocumented college degrees, award points or having a security clearance can significantly affect a Sailor’s opportunity for promotion.

Last cycle more than 70 people missed the opportunity to advance by two points or less.

“Every point counts,” said McQuillin. “It’s unfortunate when a Sailor comes so close to advancing, but doesn’t because they didn’t check to make sure all of their information on their worksheet was correct.”

Advancing in pay grade not only benefits the Sailor who advances but also those behind him or her who are trying to move forward.

“Once you move up in rank you open it up for people below you to move up,” said McQuillin. “Even people that belong to rates that are closed should study now so that they are ready to move up at the next available chance and make room for others.”

Sailors also set a good example for other shipmates when they study for exams.

“I know a lot of people who don’t study and we shouldn’t want people thinking that advancement is just something that will happen to them eventually,” said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Vince Wilson, who is taking the E-6 exam this cycle. “You want junior Sailors to see their peers studying so they realize it’s an important part of moving up.”

Though deployment is nearing the end, Wilson believes Sailors should keep their mind focused on the upcoming exam.

“A lot of Sailors are more concerned about going home and seeing their families instead of studying,” said Wilson. “You have to look past that, stay determined and be hungry to make rank.”

Chief exams are scheduled to begin in January while E-4, E-5, and E-6 exams will take place on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Thursday in March.

Story by MCSN Carla Ocampo
Photo by MC3 Lex Wenberg

Junior Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) are getting the opportunity to be leaders within their command through the Junior Enlisted Association (JEA). JEA was created by a group of motivated Sailors looking to make a difference. It is the first association for junior Sailors aboard Stennis.

“A group of Sailors and I noticed that there was no junior representation on board and thought it would be great to establish JEA,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Henry Nguyen, JEA president. “Junior enlisted make up a majority of Sailors aboard.”

JEA was established to give back to the crew and community, and improve morale.

“We have many fundraisers planned,” said Nguyen. “November is men’s health awareness month and we are raising money for organizations.”

JEA was only established a couple of months ago and already more than 80 Sailors have joined. “We’re still looking for motivated Sailors who want to make a difference,” said Nguyen. “All junior Sailors are welcome to attend meetings.”

Aside from fundraisers JEA is a great opportunity to develop leadership skills and responsibility explained Nguyen. Members of the JEA can serve as mentors to new check-ins making a difference in a Sailor’s life.

“The association is good for putting the junior enlisted voice out there,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Marlon Squires, JEA vice president. “All the activities we plan on being involved in are positives steps to advancing ourselves both professionally and personally while in the Navy.”

JEA is a fun way for junior Sailors to give back to the command while developing essential skills. Sailors interested in being a part of JEA can contact Nguyen for more information.

Story by MCSN Carla Ocampo
Photo by MC3 Kenneth Abbate

Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) have donated more than $20,000 to the 2011 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) as of Oct. 24.

CFC is the only authorized solicitation of federal employees. It is a six-week fundraising drive that allows federal employees to donate to a charity of their choice.

“I think it’s important to donate whenever and whatever you can to any charity, because at some point you or others you know may be in a time of need and the organization such as the ones within CFC will be there to help,” said Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic (AW/SW) James Beattie.

With more than 2,000 charities to choose from, Sailors can find the charity that’s right for them.

“I’ve donated to the American Breast Cancer Association and I plan to donate again this year,” said Navy Counselor 1st Class (SW/AW) Brenda Chavez. “I do it because I know people that have been affected by it.”

Whether it’s because of personal experience or because it’s something Sailors believe in, their contributions helped CFC raise $4,663,446 last year and Stennis hopes to increase their contributions this year.

“It being CFC’s 50th Anniversary this year the John C. Stennis and its strike group set a goal for $100,000,” said Beattie. “We have only been soliciting for five days and have already raised a fifth of our goal.”

Sailors who want to donate directly to the CFC can fill out a contribution form from their departmental CFC representative to give cash, check, or directly from payroll.

“To help reach our goal we are expecting 100 percent contact with Sailors and we are currently working on ideas for fundraisers,” said Beattie. “I encourage Sailors to give what they can.”

Whether it’s participating in community relation projects, blood drives or simply serving their country, Sailors are always giving back and CFC is just another way Sailors can make a positive impact on communities both nationally and internationally.

Story by MC3 Carla Ocampo
Photo by MC3 Lex T. Wenberg

Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) got the opportunity to see and talk to their loved ones through Defense Connect Online (DCO) Oct. 18 through Oct. 25.

DCO is a video teleconferencing program offered to Sailors and their families to help keep them connected over deployment. It gives both parties the opportunity to see and hear each other as if they were in the same room.

“I know this is a trial and even with the bugs I thought it was really nice to get to see my family,” said Seaman Paul Roberts. “ It was great. I mean, who would be disappointed to see their loved ones.”

During this eight-day trial session Sailors get a chance to speak to their families while helping Command Religious Ministries Department (CRMD) work out the kinks.

“We want to be able to figure out if this program will work for Sailors and which browsers are more optimal,” said Senior Chief Religious Programs Specialist (SW/AW/FMF) David Walsworth.

During their allotted time Sailors are able to talk to their families one at a time in a private area.

“This is only the test trial; in the future we will try and get more computers for Sailors,” said Walsworth. “I really think Sailors are going to be excited about this. It’s a great tool.”

There are many ways Sailors can keep in touch with their families whether its mail, e-mail or phone calls, but now Sailors have the opportunity to actually see their family, keeping them closer together while on deployment.

Story by USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Public Affairs
Photo by MC3 Will Tyndall

ARABIANGULF – As the ships, Sailors and aircraft of USS John C. Stennis Strike Group conduct operations in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom, leadership from across the group paused Oct. 17 to hold a virtual town hall meeting for friends and family via the internet video conferencing portal Defense Connect Online.

Rear Adm. Craig Faller, Commander JCSSG, Capt. Ronald Reis,

Commanding Officer USS John C. Stennis, Capt. Dale Horan, Commander Carrier Air Wing Nine and Capt. Marc Dalton, Commander Destroyer Squadron 21 hosted the meeting that focused on communicating with friends and family members of the strike group.

“Undoubtedly, the separation that comes with this deployment brings stress to you and your families, said Faller during his address. “I want to uses this forum to answer your questions and help to relieve any of the anxieties you may be feeling. I truly believe knowledge is critical to alleviating anxiety.”

More than 181 friends and family members were able to engage in near real time with leadership during the meeting and used the opportunity to ask a host of questions on topics ranging from future port visits for the ships, shipboard mail delivery, and the Perform to Serve program.

Faller went on to note the importance of direct communication with family members has on the Navy and the Sailors serving under his care.

“Communicating with families, informing them of our mission and ensuring them of the Navy’s commitment reinforces a strong family connection which helps Sailors focus on their day to day tasks,” said Faller. “Families are an integral part in uplifting Sailors morale, encouraging them to excel. If families back home are not well informed they have a tendency to worry increasing pressure upon our Sailors.”

Connecting strike group leadership with family members over voice and video chat from across the globe proved to be technically challenging, but dedicated information systems technicians aboard Stennis were able to keep the group connected.

“The biggest challenge we faced with setting up this video conference was bandwidth,” said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Thaddeus Boyd, Leading Petty Officer of JCSSG’s N-6 division, the division responsible for connecting the groups. “We had to put the ship into a restrictive web condition that only allowed critical information to leave the ship in order to free up limited bandwidth and support the town hall meeting.”

The meeting, lasting an hour, allowed both groups to communicate seamlessly with nearly zero interruptions.

“We were able to keep the two groups connected with almost zero deficiencies,” said Boyd. “There was a little problem with latency that caused the audio to delay, but participating in this conference was definitely worth the effort and technical troubleshooting. There is no other forum for our families back home to be able to actually see and hear the higher chain of command gather to talk and answer questions.”

Faller concluded the discussion by thanking attendees and emphasizing the important role families play in the success of the Navy.

“I want to thank all the families that joined us today,” said Faller. “The Navy has some of the most advanced technology and weapons systems in the world, but it is the strength of our families that guides and directs us through each mission during deployment.”

Story by MC3 Kevin Murphy
Photo by MC3 Kenneth Abbate

Through community relations projects or writing to young children, in many ways Sailors share their love, but this deployment two female Sailors gave up locks of their hair.

Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Elin Williams and Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class Jovie Frame donated their hair to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially-disadvantaged kids across the United States under the age of 18.

For Frame her benevolence is a habit she developed since she was a young girl, and for Williams she thought of nothing but the people in her life affected by cancer when her 18 inches of her hair was being snipped off.

“I’ve been donating my hair since middle school,” said Frame. “Growing up in Florida, it gets hot in the summer so I would cut my hair a shorter length. It started at the place I used to get my hair cut at, they asked me if I wanted to donate my hair, I did, so since then I made it a habit to always donate my hair every summer.”

“I always wanted to donate my hair but it was never long enough,” said Williams. “My sister donates her hair, I had a cousin and aunt who have had cancer, and my husband’s boss’s wife has cancer. It makes me feel good, being out here on the ocean and doing something for somebody who lost their hair.”

Frame and Williams participated in Stennis’ First Class Petty Officer Association “Shave your Head” fundraiser and both agreed to participate in the contest if their hair was donated. In the ship’s barber shop, their hair was braided into locks, cut, placed into a plastic Ziploc bags and sent to Locks for Love.

“My hair isn’t going to be on my head forever, I am going to it cut off eventually so I think it’s best to give it to someone,” said Frame. “It’s the same thing with toys, we play with them and then when they’re old and we don’t want them, we give them away.”

Frame has thick jet black hair that ran little past her shoulder blades and Williams 18-inch light brown hair gave Locks of Love plenty of hair to turn into wigs.

“I never had hair long enough to donate,” said Williams. “I never had hair this short before either. I wake up with an afro every day.”

Both women find immense pleasure in knowing their hair is going to make someone else’s life better even though they will never meet them.

“If I could say something to the person who gets my hair I would say you are beautiful with or without hair and you will always be beautiful,” said Frame.

Story by MC2 Heather Seelbach
Photo by MC3 Chase Corbin

Sunday, as Stennis crew members enjoyed their last day in port, a group of 32 midshipmen checked aboard to experience life at sea.

This will mark the second and final midshipmen cruise aboard Stennis this year. Stennis also welcomed midshipmen during the last phase of Composite Training Unit Exercise/ Joint Task Force Exercise in June.

“One unique quality about this group of midshipmen is their diversity,” said Stennis Training Officer Lt. Cmdr. Francis Brown. “There are three potential nurse corps officers, three female midshipmen interested in submarines, and several future aviators, as well as conventional and nuclear surface warfare officers.”

Every year, during summer break, ships fleet-wide will host 1st and 2nd class midshipmen cruises for college students aspiring to become future officers.

Christiane Amposta, a junior who studies communications at the University of San Diego, is a midshipman on her 2nd class cruise aboard Stennis.

“As 2nd class midshipmen, we learn how enlisted Sailors live and work so we can have a greater perspective as officers,” said Amposta.

While 2nd class midshipmen learn about enlisted life, 1st Classes integrate with officers.

One of the 1st class midshipmen aboard Stennis is Ariana Pypus, a senior studying astronautical engineering at the NavalAcademy who wishes to join the subsurface community.

“I spent a night aboard the USS Kentucky (SSBN 737) during PROTRAMID (professional training for midshipmen) and the crew was excellent,” said Pypus. “It seemed very team-oriented, where each person had a job to do and everyone was depending on them to do their jobs correctly.”

Pypus said she was drawn to military service because of her experience as a military child.

“My father has been in the Navy since I was born,” said Pypus. “The Navy life appealed to me because I can be around other people who want to serve their country while taking advantage of available opportunities.”

Brown said the midshipmen cruises benefit the ship’s crew by giving an opportunity to improve leadership skills while shaping the fleet’s future officers.

“It also gives the midshipmen an opportunity to experience each one of the Navy’s warfare areas,” said Brown. “Our number one goal is to immerse midshipmen in ship life, but we also have tailored group activities, to include a reactor brief and mentoring with senior enlisted.”

Brown said one of the perks of hosting midshipmen cruises is the unity and spirit of volunteerism it brings to the ship’s crew.

“The ship has really come together to make both of this year’s midshipmen cruises a success,” said Brown.

Story by MC3 Dugan Flynn
Photo by MC2 Kyle Steckler

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) departed Bremerton today for a seven-month deployment to the western Pacific Ocean and the Persian Gulf.

The ship got underway after family and friends bade farewell in the morning followed by brief remarks and questions-and-answers with regional media with Commander, Carrier Strike Group 3, Rear Adm. Craig Faller and Stennis Commanding Officer, Capt. Ron Reis.

“This carrier has 5,000 Sailors aboard, and today we welcome the families on board to share that special moment before we head underway and do our nation’s bidding,” said Reis. “The families are the core support to ensure that the Sailors are cared for while they’re underway. Like all services, being separated from your families is extremely difficult, but the United States Navy has dealt with that since its conception and we have done it better than any other service.”

Family and friends were allowed aboard to take pictures in the hangar bay and spend last moments with loved ones before deployment.

“I have a husband in the Navy; we’ve been married for a year and a half and have a ten month old who came aboard to say goodbye,” said Master at Arms 2nd Class (EXW) Sara Coyne. “It was really hard, but at least my husband is on shore duty so at least he’s there to take care of the baby.”

During this deployment, Stennis will foster diplomatic relationships with partner nations in the region.

“Wherever we go, wherever we sail, we’re not just passing through,” said Faller. “We’re training and working with friends and allies. Perhaps even pulling into a port and doing community relations projects. Wherever we go, we will be engaged.”

While interacting with partner nations, many Sailors will have the opportunity to have new experiences they’ve never had before.

“I’m looking forward to getting out there and seeing different countries,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Justin McQuillin. “I want to try different foods and experience new cultures.”

Stennis will be joined by Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 and USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), providing air support to the war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq and maritime security, ensuring freedom of navigation and regional stability.

“We are a nation at war,” said Faller. “That war is going on as we speak in Afghanistan. We will be joining that fight, and supporting those operations. Also, we are still involved and engaged in Iraq. We expect to be involved and supporting those operations as well.”

During the seven-month deployment the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is prepared to respond to any operational situation with flexible and sustainable force on short notice in order to protect America’s vital interests across the globe.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Carla Ocampo
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Crossley

USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) completed a successful Joint Task Force Training Exercise (JTFEX) June 8 off the coast of Southern California.

“Our crew could not have performed better,” said John C. Stennis Commanding Officer Capt. Ron Reis. “It was through top down bottom up leadership intertwined with a collective sea warrior spirit that we consistently perform at such a high level. Sailors aboard Stennis are trained and ready to meet national tasking. Teamwork, superior skills and warfighting ethos will enable us to successfully meet any challenge we may confront during deployment.”

JTFEX is the second major training evolution for Stennis following Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in May.

JCSCSG is made up of John C. Stennis, CVW-9 (Carrier Air Wing 9), guided missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), and DESRON 21; guided missile destroyers USS Kidd (DDG 100), USS Dewey (DDG 105), USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Pinckney (DD G91).

JTFEX was a week-long exercise designed to test JCSCSG’s ability to operate in a hostile environment.

Throughout JTFEX, JCSCSG dealt with an assortment of simulated attacks, such as torpedoes and missile attacks from enemy aircraft and ships. General quarters was called depending on the response needed.

“The idea of JTFEX is to stress the importance of procedures and planned responses to certain threats and get into a tactical mind-set,” said Lt. Ji Theriot, one of Stennis’ tactical action officers.

JTFEX tested the capability of JCSCG to operate with multinational forces and other military branches in a joint environment to combat the simulated threats.

“The scenario was started where we left off during COMPTUEX,” said Operations Specialist Master Chief (SW/AW) Brian Basset, operations department leading chief petty officer. “We continued to focus on our role in a joint environment while conducting sea combat operations.”

The constant flux of drills kept Sailors directly involved on alert and busy throughout the six- day exercise.

“JTFEX was packed with action, we were constantly moving,” said Theriot. “Problems operated around the clock, which was more realistic than the previous exercise.”

JTFEX was the final test JCSCSG had to demonstrate they can act and react as a cohesive fighting unit.

“We are ready for anything, but we need to continue to do better at everything we do,” said Stennis’ Executive Officer Capt. Michael Wettlaufer. “Continuous training is required to maintain readiness throughout deployment in order to be ready to do the nation’s bidding.”

With JTFEX complete, JCSCSG is ready for the upcoming deployment to the Western Pacific and Central Command areas of operation to conduct maritime security operations.

“JCS Strike Group Sailors have performed exceedingly well during JTFEX. I am extremely proud of everyone’s efforts as we faced a complex battle problem; without a doubt the most challenging scenario presented to any Carrier Strike Group,” said Commander, John C. Stennis Strike Group Rear Adm. Craig Faller. “These events put us through our paces in a short period of time. In the end we proved that we are combat ready, prepared to take the fight to the enemy, and assist those in need across the globe. This would not have been possible if it weren’t for the focused efforts of all hands and solid deckplate leadership.”

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